Charger sharing could help to fuel EV uptake and solve the UK’s patchy public charger problem. Best of all, you get paid. It’s a great side hustle!
It is estimated that around a third of drivers have no off-street parking. Whether it’s terraced houses or apartment blocks with no car park, for these drivers, EV ownership is less convenient than it is for people with a driveway.
Community charging is a potential answer to this problem.
The idea is that your driveway and EV charger hosts local drivers during time slots, which they pre-book in an app like Co Charger.
It’s a fantastic idea because when your charger isn’t being used by you, it can be used by other drivers who will pay you for the privilege.
But it begs the question: do you want a stranger parked on your driveway, potentially for several hours at a time?
This article explores the case for and against EV charger sharing to bring balance to the idea. Hopefully, it helps you make a decision.
What is charger sharing?
Charger sharing is a growing phenomenon that started as a deal between mates and grew into a viable, communal way to charge an electric car.
With charger sharing, you share your home charger with other drivers. The driver books and pays for the session in an app.
You get paid, and the other driver is happy. Win-win!
Importantly, you don’t communicate with the customer; everything is handled in the app, so there is some anonymity.
The number one app for this is Co Charger. Co Charger handles everything, including bookings and payments, so in this respect the process is automated.
With Co Charger, all you need to do is make your EV charger available, put up a sign to designate it as a space, and create an account. You are then connected to people in your area that need access to off-street parking.
When drivers have no driveway of their own, communal charging offers a safe and affordable way to charge. It is preferable to charging on the street.
What happens during a session?
You choose whether to be present for the charging session or not, and you have full control to reject and approve sessions.
When approved, the driver has a pre-booked slot, so all they do is park up and plug into your charger. Since domestic EV chargers are slow, it is normal for the customer to leave their car parked and come back to it later.
You don’t need to invite them in for a brew.
Your experience should be seamless as the host. But if you’re in, it can be awkward if the customer needs to use your loo.
If you are home, then you might like to be friendly, make them a brew and have a natter about electric vehicles. It’s entirely up to you. It’s your house!
How long do charging sessions last?
Most charging sessions last two to three hours, so if you have a 7.4kW charger, you’ll give the other driver up to 90-miles of range.
However, you can offer charging sessions for longer periods, potentially covering entire days if you happen to be away on holiday.
You have full control, so charger sharing can be made to fit your lifestyle perfectly.
The longer the session, the more you get paid, but you need to strike a balance, so that charger sharing doesn’t impact your own life.
If you have a double driveway or more than one parking space, charger charging could become a lucrative side hustle.
Who uses charger sharing?
Mostly neighbours and people living within a 5-mile radius of you. While some drivers do travel from farther afield in rural areas, in areas with lots of EV drivers, most sessions are booked by local people. You might even see them about!
Community charging is growing in popularity because of rising public charging costs. Even though domestic energy prices are also increasing, they are still significantly lower than public chargers and will remain that way.
It should be said that customers and hosts are not vetted on Co Charger; there are no background checks or anything of that kind.
Benefits of charger sharing
Should you share your charger? There are several reasons why it’s a good idea and fewer reasons why it’s a bad idea.
Here are the benefits:
Make some money
The obvious advantage to charger sharing is earning money. You set the charging rate, so you have control over covering the cost of energy + profit. For example, if you pay 5p per kWh, then you might charge the customer 12p per kWh. This will cover your profit and the 12% or so fee to the app/service.
The key is to make sure charger sharing covers your own cost per mile so that the energy you consume is effectively cost-neutral.
Make EV ownership cheaper for others
Public charging stations are a big business, with energy prices as high as 69p per kWh (IONITY). Also, with the energy crisis in full swing, prices are likely to rise more in the future. Charger sharing is a way to help other drivers out. Let’s not forget that not everyone has the luxury of a driveway!
Other drivers will pay a lot less to charge at your house than in public. Ultimately, this is good for all EV drivers.
Meet fellow EV drivers and make friends
Charger sharing opens the door to meeting fellow electric car owners who live locally. Having a brew and a natter is part of charger sharing culture, although it is entirely optional, and you don’t even need to be home. Who knows, the person you meet might help you in your life?
Once you build up a rapport with customers, they also tend to come back for more. This increases revenue opportunities.
Downsides to charger sharing
Like all things in life, there are a few things to bear in mind with charger sharing. Whether or not they bother you is a matter of opinion.
Let’s not pretend everyone in the world is a Saint. There are dodgy people, and by the law of averages, some drive electric vehicles.
You need to weigh this up. Are you happy with strangers parking on your driveway? Are you happy to let them into your home if they need the loo?
Also, kids. If you have children, inviting strangers to park at your house has its own concerns, even if you can restrict session times.
Of course, customers aren’t going to damage your charger on purpose, but accidents happen. Your charger could get scratched, come loose from the wall, or your charger might be used incorrectly. Ultimately, it is impossible to say that every session will be hunky-dory.
This could open a can of worms. Who is liable for any damage? How will you prove it wasn’t you that damaged the charger in the first place?
From these pros and cons, it is clear to see that community charging has more benefits than downsides. For this reason, we like the idea.
Charger sharing is a golden opportunity to earn money. In fact, it can be so lucrative that it’ll more than cover your own cost per mile on the road. It’s also a great way to meet new people and be a part of your local community.
The main concern over charger sharing is letting strangers onto your property. There is no way to get over this concern, other than giving it a go and seeing how it goes.
Overall, if you have an EV charger at home, sharing it is a good idea, providing you are happy to do so. Hopefully, this article helps you make a decision.